African Diaspora should use postal services to cut down on the cost of sending remittances to their relatives back home, Bishar Hussein, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) said on Saturday.
Hussein noted in a statement issued to mark the International Day of Family Remittances that that African migrants have been incurring huge expenses to send money to their relatives hence the need to explore safer, convenient and cheaper option provided by the post office.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s most expensive region to send money home. Africans last year paid an average of almost ten cents for every dollar sent thus hitting the poor in rural areas hardest,” said Hussein.
“An efficient solution may come in the form of something that has been a staple of African community life for over hundreds of years; the humble but resilient post office,” he added.
The International Day of Family Remittances focused on harnessing the untapped potential of postal services to revolutionize Diaspora remittances.
Hussein noted that remittances from African Diaspora remains an integral component of the continent’s socio-economic transformation hence the need to lower the cost of sending them.
“More than 200 million people in Africa rely on payments from abroad and some 80 million live in rural areas. The lack of roads and bridges can make badly-needed access to financial services challenging,” said Hussein.
He regretted that hidden charges that include transport fees, monopolistic tendencies by service providers as well as security risks have driven up the cost of sending remittances to Africa.
African governments, multilateral agencies and consumer lobby groups should earmark resources to revamp postal services that are capable of delivering remittances in a cheaper and effective manner.
Hussein noted that post offices remain an enduring mode of sending and receiving money and parcels in Africa despite the onslaught of digital revolution.
“In some Sub-Saharan African countries, post offices are less than ten minutes walk away for 42 percent of their customers; their proximity shows that postal operators are well-placed to deliver financial services to their customers,” said Hussein.
He disclosed that in Benin and Madagascar, 67 percent of recipients walked to the nearest post offices to obtain their remittances and the scenario was replicated in Senegal and Ghana where 62 and 57 percent of the beneficiaries received their money at the post office respectively.
Hussein stressed that reducing the cost of sending Diaspora remittances to Africa is key to achieve the UN 2030 goal 10 on reducing inequalities.
“Posts are well-positioned to help achieve this goal. They have the networks, logistics and strong ties to government,” Hussein said. Enditem